At times like these when every news bulletin bristles with fresh economic calamity, it is natural to yearn for an earlier, halcyon age. The days when an honest labourer could stroll down a sun-dappled country lane fringed with cowslips and daisies, wave a horny hand of greeting at a rosy-cheeked milkmaid wending her way across the lea, stop at a wayside inn, sit outside in the still and silent air beneath an arbour fragrant with the aroma of sweet peas, sup a pint of home-brewed ale, dine on faggots and peas, have a tumble with the landlord’s daughter and still get change out of a groat.
Myth, of course. As with all golden ages, it lives only in the imagination. Truth was that the labourer had been cast out of his tenanted cottage, the milkmaid had rotting teeth, the hedgerow was full of discarded fag packets and beer bottles, the beer was off, the arbour had woodworm, and the landlord’s daughter halitosis. Worse, the landlord himself, something of a part-time engineer, was working on a clockwork contraption fashioned from string, beer crates, sealing wax and a bull’s bladder which, when completed, would play popular music at a pitch audible in the next hamlet. “I’m thinking of calling it a jukebox,” he explained, removing a dribbling clay pipe from his mouth. “Named after Harry Juke, the finest pig-caller in Herefordshire. Word has it he only had to clear his throat and sows would come panting over the hills, udders swaying this way and that, all the way from Lincolnshire.”
Nostalgia, both by definition and in fact, is a disease, but sooner or later it afflicts us all and, if truth be told, does no harm in small doses. So, we must look kindly on Heinz, which, as a counter to the miserable slough of recession, is reviving its famous advertising slogan Beanz Meanz Heinz.
Its creator Maurice Drake recalls the moment inspiration struck. “After weeks of searching for a new campaign theme, the answer came in a London pub. I still find it incredible that over 40 years later, the seemingly timeless Beanz Meanz Heinz slogan continues to have relevance and brand power, still appealing to different generations in an ever-changing world.”
How true! In a storm-tossed world, when the old certainties are crumbling and the future is a land we fear to tread, the baked bean stands firm and inviolate, an enduring symbol of nationhood. A Britain without baked beans would be a strange and desolate country, like the Costa del Sol without fish and chips or the Russian steppes without wolf-ravaged peasants.
While the revival of Beanz Meanz Heinz is as welcome as it is refreshing, as with all things nostalgic it prompts a wistful pang of regret and loss. Would it not be wonderful to be able to revive “Guinness is Good for You” or the wordier slogan of the rival Mackeson, “It looks good, it tastes good and, by golly, it does you good”.
It would be pleasing to revive them, not just for old times’ sake but also because they were happily free of the contemporary baggage of political correctness, health fanaticism, and general priggishness. Since Guinness contains alcohol, a substance rapidly becoming as reviled in the eyes of the righteous as tobacco, it cannot possibly do anyone any good. The old Mackeson slogan is doubly offensive; not only does it make an erroneous claim to be healthy it also includes “golly”, a term from which all right-thinking people ie, those fully versed in the rotes of equality and diversity, must recoil in horror.
Sad to say, the Beanz slogan, while undoubtedly old, comes with a wearisome hint of the new.
John Alderman, marketing manager at Heinz, says: “Heinz Beanz has been successfully nourishing generations of growing families in both good and bad times for over 100 years.
“As the No.1 baked beans brand, Beanz truly does mean Heinz and with the multitude of nutritional benefits in every can of Heinz Beanz: virtually fat free, packed with fibre, low in sugar as well as being one of your five- a day, you can always rely on the nourishing value of Heinz Beanz for meals the whole family love.”
While admiring his skill in mentioning the product with every breath, one cannot but lament the obeisance to the health fascists. When Maurice Drake dreamt up his slogan in that pub all those years ago, it was enough that beans were tasty and enjoyable and, quite incidentally, good for you.
In that halycon age no one worried about sugar, fibre or fat, and five-a-day, if it meant anything, denoted a moderate cigarette habit. Will it ever come back? In your dreamz.